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Bass saxophone

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The bass saxophone (or bass sax for short) is the second largest existing member of the saxophone family (or third largest, if the subcontrabass tubax is counted). It is similar in design to a baritone saxophone, but is larger and its loop, near the mouthpiece, extends further vertically. Unlike the baritone, the bass saxophone is not commonly used. While some composers (such as Percy Grainger, like in his work Lincolnshire Posy) did write parts for the instrument in their compositions through the early twentieth century, the bass sax part in today's wind bands is usually handled by the tuba, or in jazz and other popular-music bands by the double bass or electric bass, all of which have a lower range.

Although originally available in either B♭ or C (the latter for orchestral use), the modern bass saxophone is pitched in B♭, a perfect fourth lower than the baritone, and thus the same as the B♭ contrabass clarinet. Sheet music for bass sax is written in treble clef, just as music for the other saxophones is written, but for the bass instrument, it sounds two octaves and a major second lower than written. Like the other members of the saxophone family, the lowest written note is B♭ below the staff; for bass saxophone, this note is a concert-pitch A♭ in the first octave (~ 51.9 Hz).

The lowest existing member of the saxophone family is the rare (and massive) contrabass, pitched in E♭ and tuned a perfect fifth lower than the bass. Inventor Adolphe Sax had a patent for a subcontrabass saxophone (or bourdon saxophone), but he apparently never built a fully functioning instrument in that pitch. If it existed, it would sound an octave lower than the bass. However, the subcontrabass tubax was modeled after the subcontrabass saxophone, and its range is the same.

Adolphe Sax, the saxophone's inventor, first exhibited the bass saxophone in C at an exhibition in Brussels in 1841. The bass saxophone thus has the distinction of having been the first saxophone to be presented to the public.

[edit] Bass saxophone players

The bass saxophone enjoyed some measure of popularity in jazz combos between World War I and World War II, with the bass saxophone used primarily to provide bass lines (although occasionally players took melodic solos). Notable players of this era include Billy Fowler, Coleman Hawkins, Adrian Rollini, and Vern Brown of the Six Brown Brothers.[1] The American bandleader Boyd Raeburn (1913-1966), who led an avant-garde big band in the 1940s, was a bass saxophonist.

The 1970s traditional jazz band The Memphis Nighthawks built their sound around a bass saxophone played by the diminutive Dave Feinman, who could just reach his mouthpiece. Probably the finest revivalist bass saxophonist performing today in the 1920s-1930s style is Vince Giordano. Jazz players using the instrument in a more contemporary style include Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Vinny Golia, Joseph Jarman, Jan Garbarek, Urs Leimgruber, Tony Bevan, and Scott Robinson, though none of these uses it as their primary instrument.

In the genres of rock and funk, Angelo Moore of the American band Fishbone plays bass saxophone. In the 1960s, Rodney Slater used the instrument in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, as did Ralph Carney of the avant-garde rock band Tin Huey. John Linnell of They Might Be Giants and Dana Colley of Morphine also play the bass saxophone on occasion.

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This article was started using a Wikipedia saxophone article
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